"The way that we are living in the world right now is disconnected from the source of our survival ... This is not the time to wallow in despair and fear, this is not the time to waste our energies pointing fingers and casting blame. This is a time for us to organize, it's a time for us to galvanize our efforts, and to unify in ways that we never have before, to protect what is sacred and precious to us." - Sherri Mitchell
Five New stories for the great transition:
In this film we follow the stories of five radical groups of people and the places where their big ideas are unfolding. Find more information about each of those stories below.
Metta Earth Institute: A center for contemplative ecology
"In many ways it's an act of devotion, to be able to be of service to the next generation." - Russell Comstock, Co-director, MEI
Located in Lincoln Vermont, Metta Earth Institute (MEI), is a center for contemplative ecology that focuses on education through a wide array of trainings, retreats, intensive programs, workshops, and consultations. MEI is a place to explore solutions for a global shift in consciousness, supporting the revitalization of a care-based society, and the rejuvenation of nature and earth. By integrating contemplative practices with ecological and regenerative methods of land stewardship, MEI is an educational center, committed to the co-creation of life-affirming communities, that value personal transformation and deep inner work. The film follows the stories of a group of inspired young women, learning, and working the land together.
"It's very hard to be aware of what's going on - I recently just brought a child in to this world - and one of the hardest aspects of that was being aware of what I was bringing him into. Being here is helping me to deal with that emotional taxing part...we're still talking about all those hard issues but also ways to resolve it, in our own bodies, so we can actually do something about it and not be so clouded by that heaviness." - Cora Woods, Farm intern, MEI
Soul Fire Farm
"If I consider myself obligated to end climate chaos and figure out how to feed the entire world, then I'm not going to be able to get out from under my covers. But I also can't desist from doing everything in my power, toward those ends. And if I can inspire one person or ten people or a hundred people to do the same, that collective energy might be enough to shift the machine. And if it's not, and we lose, which is possible, I would rather go out knowing that I never gave up hope, that I always believed in a bright future. And in the process of building that bright future, I'm actually having a good life, and my children are having a really good life, and the people who are coming here are having a better life. And so the present moment is enriched by that work." - Leah Penniman, Co-founder, Soul Fire Farm
"In regards to the production of our farm, first of all - and why we are focusing on delivering food in to food dessert neighborhoods - we actually prefer the term, food aparthied - which is really the food system that we have right now. Where certain people live in food opulence - and have access to their Whole Foods and their Trader Joes and there are also a large percentage of Americans - mostly black, latino, and indigenous Americans - who don't even have enough to eat, never mind high quality food." - Leah Penniman, Co-founder, Soul Fire Farm
Located in Petersburg, VT, Soul Fire Farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. They do this by raising life-giving food that is primarily cultivated by, and grown for those most marginalized by our current system of food apartheid. Poor and dispossessed people, and people of color, lack adequate, if any, access to high quality fresh food. Soul Fire was founded to fulfill this need, and to reclaim the collective right to belong to the earth and have agency in the food system. Through a lens of deep reverence for the land and the wisdom of our ancestors, the farm brings together diverse communities that learn the skills of sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. Soul Fire is training the next generation of activist-farmers, and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.
"I very much believe that, right now, it's a battle of stories - and what story is going to win. What's the narrative that's going to surface to the very top - and the general population will believe - and therefore, their children will believe. And so, everyone gets to play in that story - everyone gets to write a line." - Alixa Garcia, Co-founder, Climbing Poetree
Climbing PoeTree is the soulful, truth-telling musical creation of Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman - two artists for whom spoken word and music have the power to transform, uplift, and rebuild. For 13 years, Climbing Poetree has inspired movements for justice, doing so with healing and imagination, inspiration and multimedia theater, sustainable touring and community organizing. Garcia and Penniman are cultural architects who commit themselves to reframing common narratives of scarcity, consumerism, and extraction, to stories of power, truth, possibility, and love - we will triumph over greed. With roots in hip hop, world music, spoken word, and multimedia theater, they translate deep research of the most pressing issues of our time into stunning artistry. Music as organizing tool: Climbing Poetree has been called a catalyst that activates the audience to cultivate the world we want to see.
From South Africa to Cuba, the Brooklyn Academy of Music to Rikers Island Prison, Garcia and Penniman have played over 30 international and national tours. They have been featured alongside powerhouses such as Alice Walker, Danny Glover, Cornel West, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Little Dragon, Naomi Klein, and Angela Davis, who remarked, “Each time I have the pleasure of attending a performance by Climbing PoeTree, I feel enriched, renewed, and inspired. Alixa and Naima insist that poetry can change the world — and it is true that the urgency, power and beauty of their words impel us to keep striving for the radical futures toward which they gesture.”
"I'm profoundly in love with a chance to be alive and to exist on this miraculous planet earth, and to be in community with other human beings. I think - as much destruction as we're responsible for - we're a phenomenal species - and I really believe that all of us who are alive right now, in some realm, made a choice to step in to being part of this moment of shifting - that is really necessary if we are going to continue as human beings on the planet. And to awaken into our various roles to be part of helping to change the story that we're walking in to." - Naima Penniman, Co-founder, Climbing Poetree
"My point of entry was through head, through intellect. And Goddard helps you find heart. It is impossible to thrive here, and not have one's heart divinely shifted." - Pam Booker, MFA, Goddard College Faculty
Tucked in to the hills of north-central Vermont, Goddard College is a unique institution of alternative education, committed to integrating everyday life with higher education - so that the whole person is nourished, and not just the intellect. With an emphasis on whole systems thinking, Goddard is guided by these core principles: the most fundamental fact of life is change, people learn only what they inwardly accept, and education is a moral concern. Goddard graduates are known for bringing energetic questioning and status-quo-changing philosophies and skills to social, political, environmental, entrepreneurial and artistic endeavors.
"Education is a process of securing a better understanding and an enriching of life, rather than the teaching of a subject matter in prescribed courses." - Royce S. Pitkin, Founder, Goddard College
"I currently work in school systems in New York City - group homes, drug programs and, we talk about healing - how to heal first, before you actually become active in this movement of liberation and helping people." - Jose Cruz, Goddard Student
"You start moving very elemental parts of yourself - and take time - and you start playing. And play becomes a key part. Because it produces a joy. [And] joy is what opens the big doors of everything. You know, play and critical thinking go hand-in-hand. Sometimes we think of critical thinking in one way, and we sort of disconnect it them from this process of play. And, they really can go together. And I think this is where places of alternative education can have the opportunity to say "no" - play and critical thinking, do go together." - Antonia Gonzalez Walker, PhD, Goddard College Faculty
fable farm and fermentory
"The community is very important in creating these spaces where it allows individuals to feel safe, and to grow as well. Our whole survival is 100% dependent upon community. If you look at traditional or indigenous cultures - a lot of them - of say the Vermont Abenaki - [it is] very community oriented. And so, their healing practice would be to go off and have these individual expeditions, because they were living so much of their [lives] through a community paradigm - that their healing [needed to be] individual. Whereas you come to our communities now - we are so estranged from our culture - community - that a lot of healing can be done in community." - Christopher Piana
Located in Barnard VT, Fable Farm is a working farm, winery, and culinary enterprise, who's special ingredient is its great variety of creative and stunning community events, hosted at the farm year-round. Co-founders and farmers, Christopher and John Piana, are community focused, and they share a vision of bringing people together to celebrate rural life, arts, and culture, such that relationship and people are valued over profits. One of the highlights of the Fable Farm experience is its weekly summer and fall event called Feast and Field. The farm works in collaboration with other farm partners and local and world musicians to put on an extraordinary musical farmers' market sensation, every Thursday, throughout the growing season.
"I really think it all comes down to everyone doing their own inner work - and healing our traumas, of our childhood, our past lives, our time on earth. Just recognizing it and spending time to heal it. I really think it's by focusing on the self, first and foremost, that you'll be able to bring the best service to your community, and by focusing on your community, you're going to best influence the global village." - Jonathan Piana, Co-founder, Fable Farm